Coronary Bypass Without Opening the Chest

Stephen Hood, TECAB patient A few weeks after coronary bypass surgery, Stephen Hood was back on his bike.

Stephen Hood didn't miss a beat after having triple bypass heart surgery. The Orland Park, Ill., resident was home in three days and back to work as a campus police officer for a local university just five weeks later.

The secret to his quick recovery: totally endoscopic coronary artery bypass (TECAB) surgery. Cardiac surgeon Husam H. Balkhy, MD, completed the robot-assisted procedure using miniature instruments to operate through four half-inch holes, or ports, in the chest area. Unlike traditional coronary bypass surgery, TECAB does not require opening the chest, cracking the ribs or stopping the heart. Balkhy is one of only a handful of cardiac surgeons in the country who perform this totally endoscopic procedure.

"Patients have noticeably less pain and experience fewer complications," said Balkhy, director of minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine.

"I couldn't be happier with the results from the surgery."

Balkhy and his team first met with Hood after cardiac catheterization tests showed significant narrowing in three coronary arteries. An 85 percent blockage in his left anterior descending coronary artery -- a condition referred to as the "widow maker" -- put the 65-year-old at high risk for a massive heart attack.

Balkhy and his team first met with Hood after cardiac catheterization tests showed significant narrowing in three coronary arteries. An 85 percent blockage in his left anterior descending coronary artery -- a condition referred to as the "widow maker" -- put the 65-year-old at high risk for a massive heart attack. Husam H. Balkhy, MD

"Stephen was in critical need of bypasses in all three areas of his heart," Balkhy said. During the six-hour, closed-chest procedure, as Hood's heart continued to beat, Balkhy harvested arteries from the chest wall and attached the grafts, restoring blood flow to the affected areas. It is uncommon to perform three bypasses totally endoscopically, but the location of his blockages made Hood a good candidate for this approach.

Within a couple of weeks of surgery, Hood went back to riding his bike three miles several times a week. "I couldn't be happier with the results from the surgery," he said. "I had no pain at all; that's the God's truth. The recovery was fantastic."

January 2014

This story originally ran in the Winter 2014 issue of Imagine, a quarterly magazine published by the University of Chicago Medicine.
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